Newcastle travel to Portuguese giants Benfica in the first leg of the quarter finals of the Europa League on Thursday. Newcastle are among three teams, alongside Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea to qualify for the last eight phase of the competition where they will be looking to leave their league disappointments aside and progress into the semi-finals.
Where to Watch Live
Kick-Off is set for 8:05pm BST. Live coverage will be available on ITV 4 and ITV 4 HD.
Benfica have been in excellent form this season in the Europa League, unbeaten in their last four fixtures. They qualified to the quarter finals with a 4-2 win in aggregate over French side Bordeaux in the round of 16. Benfica won their home leg 1-0 and came up with an even better performance in France where they nicked the game and the tie with a 3-2 win over the French. The Portuguese side have an excellent record this season in Europe, undefeated at home since their 1-0 loss to Metalist in December.
The Portuguese are excellent form in the league too, with the Portuguese side currently on 64 points, four points ahead of challengers Porto in the run in for the title. Their last game in the league ended in a 6-1 win over Rio Ave at home with striker Rodrigo Lima scoring a hattrick. Benfica's form in all competitions have made them outright favourites to win the leg and carry over a substantial advantage to England.
Newcastle United got the better of Russian giants Anzhi Makhachkala over two legs, drawing the away fixture 0-0 while sneaking a late goal at home through Papiss Cisse to win the tie 1-0. The Europa League is Newcastle's only hope to save grace this season, with the Magpies struggling in the league, having picked up only 33 points from 31 games and are only three points clear of the relegation zone.
Alan Pardew's side have failed to recreate the same form from last year, where they put up an excellent display throughout the season, to finish ahead of Chelsea in fifth spot. Newcastle will however be buoyed by their defensive solidarity in the Europa League, keeping a clean sheet in each of their last four fixtures. The Premier League side will face their toughest test in this competition against the Primeira Liga leaders, who are currently on a five match winning streak in the league.
Last Five(All Competitions, Most Recent First): W W W W W
Last Result: Benfica 6 - 1 Rio Ave
Last Five(All Competitions, Most Recent First): L L W W D
Last Result: Manchester City 4 - 0 Newcastle United
Benfica manager Jorge Jesus has a full squad to choose from with the exception of Eduardo Salvio(knee), who is still a couple of weeks away from recovery. Jesus is expected to pick the same set of players who starred in their 6-1 win over Rio Ave in the weekend, with no player reported unfit for selection.
Probabale Line-Up: Artur; Pereira, Garay, Luisao, Melgarejo ; Matic, Martins ; John, Lima, Gaitan; Cardozo
Alan Pardew has a host of injuries to cater to and with their Premier League position in precarious hands, need to put forward a conservative squad, so as to preserve his team for their Premier League game against Fulham on Sunday.
Haris Vuckic (knee), Mathieu Debuchy (hamstring) and Hatem Ben Arfa (hamstring) are all out aalong with Ryan Taylor (knee) who has travelled with the squad, but is unlikely to play. However, Davide Santon and Tim Krul are back for the game while Massadio Haidara, Cheikh Tiote and Fabricio Coloccini are doubtful to make the bench.
Probable Line-Up: Krul; Simpson, Yanga-Mbiwa, Taylor, Santon; Cabaye, Anita; Marveaux, Sissoko, Jonas; Cisse